In Ignorance and Basketball
What the response to the UConn women’s win streak says about society.
By Ben York / @bjyork
“Here’s a news flash for Auriemma: You’re not chasing UCLA’s record of 88 consecutive victories under John Wooden. You didn’t tie it and you’re not going to break it. That’s a men’s basketball record. You coach a women’s team. A women’s team can’t break a men’s record any more than a men’s team can break a women’s record.” – Mark Potash, Chicago Sun-Times.
I’m now convinced that women’s basketball can do nothing right.
We’ve spent decades asking both the media and public not to compare women’s basketball with men’s basketball; they are different games and neither is better than the other. Even though women’s basketball doesn’t have to justify itself, we defend it because we believe in it.
They (the media and general public) come up with false accusations without doing proper research (and by ‘proper’ I mean ‘any’). You’ve heard them – how the WNBA is leaching off the NBA, comparing attendance numbers to men and using these numbers to attack the women’s game, and constantly diminishing women’s playing ability by measuring it to men.
Now, after years of saying the women’s game is different than the men’s, we get criticized for comparing the UConn women’s team to John Wooden’s men’s team that won 88 in a row.
That’s the way the world works, right? I mean, people everywhere have to compare themselves to others as benchmarks. After all, how could there be any good in this world without evil to compare to? How can we know how much better we are than someone else without measuring our valuables and possessions with another?
This is the sad, unfair world we live in.
Now, because Geno Auriemma spoke the truth and said everyone was “up in arms” because women are threatening to break a record held by men, we get people who have watched maybe 2-3 women’s basketball games in their lives thinking they are experts. Suddenly, almost magically, people who have never written a thing about women’s basketball (or even women’s sports in general) have come out of the woodwork to bash Auriemma for his comments.
Ah, the power of the ego.
It doesn’t matter that Auriemma has spent months trying to get the media off his back about the record so he and his team could focus on the present. It doesn’t matter that the record isn’t even the most important thing to him, or the team, for that matter. And it certainly doesn’t matter that basketball legend, Bobby Knight, said Maya Moore was one of the most complete basketball players he has ever seen.
You’re probably wondering where I got the quote from at the beginning of this article. It was from a post written by Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times. You can find his full article online where he goes out of his way to bash, both unfairly and unjustly, Geno Auriemma and the UConn women’s team; I’m not linking to it here. However, I can assure you that all the quotes I use and respond to are real and untouched.
Potash asserts that head coach Geno Auriemma is blowing the UConn women’s streak of 88 consecutive victories out of proportion. Or, rather, “making more out of it than it was.” Right…clearly 88 victories in a row is nothing to write home about. Easily accomplished. That’s why it has been done so many times before.
Potash then states the following.
“Nobody’s having a heart attack over your perceived ‘threat’ to UCLA’s record. The only reason people are writing about it, if they are at all, is in response to others who are trying to convince themselves that you’re breaking it.”
I guess we should be thanking you, Mark. Thank you for spending time writing about this inferior league that is worthless. That’s like saying a child should be thankful for the attention they received after getting beat up. If Potash’s statements don’t sum up the ignorance and narcissism the media has towards women’s athletics I don’t know what will. The “only reason” people are writing about the streak is because of Auriemma’s comments after the game?
Spar me your chauvinistic thoughts, Mark. It’s a much bigger deal than you, and even Auriemma, are making out of it. 88 wins in a row is unbelievable and any athlete of any level or gender will tell you that. Instead, you’re focusing on downplaying an amazing streak because your ego has been attacked.
Otherwise, as you put it, why spend the time writing about it?
“Auriemma should be happy that established media are buying the idea that UConn is breaking UCLA’s record and giving him a soapbox to whine about the lack of respect women’s basketball receives in the sporting world.
Women’s basketball gets what it deserves. Probably more than it deserves if you include a professional league that is attached to the NBA like an oxygen machine.”
Women’s basketball “gets what it deserves.” Interesting. So, for playing their hearts out because they love the game and fighting for respect in America and beyond, they get bigotry in return? I don’t fully understand the logic behind that but, then again, I’m just a dumb women’s basketball writer.
Additionally, no matter how many times David Stern says it, people seemingly don’t get it. The WNBA isn’t leaching off the NBA. In fact, Stern budgeted it to break even this past year rather than the hundreds of millions of dollars the NBA is losing each year.
But we can just blame that on the women too, right?
“It’s not as popular as men’s basketball because it’s neither as good nor as entertaining. All you have to do is watch five minutes of a women’s game to know that. It’s basic physiology, Geno. Basketball is a game that emphasizes jumping ability and quickness. Women — no offense, of course — can’t match the jumping ability or the quickness of elite men’s players.”
So, let me get this straight, if you are quick and have jumping ability you can make the NBA? And, on top of that, are automatically more fun to watch than women? Good to know. You’re right; Isaiah Rider was soooo fun to watch. Loved his fundamentals. Wait…where is he again?
“There are probably 10 high school teams in the city that could beat the Connecticut women.”
You went there. I didn’t think you would, Mark, but you did. I’m not sure why this surprises me still. Potash is, roughly, the 33,189th writer to make such a claim.
Admittedly, this is where I completely tuned out and realized that Potash, evidently, as never watched a women’s basketball game. But, then again, the majority of mainstream media has developed similar false conceptions of women’s basketball by doing the exact same thing.
But, wait! Women’s basketball was mentioned in the papers and on mainstream news! We should be happy and thankful such an honor was bestowed on us!
The sad fact of the matter is that Auriemma’s comments are now the focus of the mainstream media rather than the streak itself. Nothing new. Even so, the conscious and undying prejudice towards women’s basketball is still alarming. The world wants controversy and we, somehow, have made their unbelievable feat into one.
Shame on us.